Namibia: Winnie Metzger - an Agriculture Trailblazer

ABSALOM SHIGWEDHA at MUSESE

RENTING the government's irrigation green schemes out to private operators appears to be the best option for national agricultural projects to prosper and ensure food security in Namibia.

This is the view of agriculturalist and borehole driller Winnie Metzger, a German-speaking Namibian, who is part of a joint venture with the private leaseholder of the Musese green scheme irrigation project.

The government has placed this scheme in private hands for 20 years.

Having spent much of his life in the borehole drilling industry and commercial farming, Metzger forked out the necessary financial inputs to plant maize crops at Musese.

The project comprises 15 maize fields of 42 to 52 ha each, as well as 10 plots of 12 ha each belonging to the small-scale farmers' programme.

A private operator assists with the technical aspects of harvesting.

"This year, we planted 12 of the 15 fields - a total of 525 ha of land, and we're expecting a fair harvest," Metzger says.

The small-scale farmers at Musese have planted on a combined 120 ha of land, which would see them harvesting 1 200 tonnes of maize this year.

"These small-scale farmers produce the best maize, and each one has a house here," Metzger says.

He says three of the main project's fields could not be planted as planting was done late and some centre pivots were not usable.

Metzger says most of the crops are now dry and ready to be harvested.

The small-scale farmers were set to start harvesting on 20 July as the silos of the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency were not ready to receive their maize before this date.

The Musese irrigation green scheme is one of the oldest in Namibia, and was established in 1977.

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